Saturday, July 04, 2009

When the Government Runs the Store..... 

This story in the Seattle Times indicates the dilemma when governments try to run retail operations.

Appears the state run liquor operations installed a new distribution software program that controls the distribution of liquor throughout the state. Shortly after the problem was detected June 8, the distribution center was filling only 65 to 70 percent of the orders it was receiving. Now deliveries are up to 80% but for business owners, it just looks bad when you are simply out of stock of key beverages.

Those of you in the restaurant business know how critical it is to have product on hand for your customers. In this situation, either the software was improperly tested or possibly not capable of handling the load. However, 18,000 cases of anything is not much to track. (Just think of your credit card transactions, hundreds of millions of items to track a day, for decades.)

Life has become more complex and legislatures everywhere keep looking for one more angle to raise taxes. I teach MIS (Mgt. Info. Sys.) If a private sector supplier had run into this programming problem, you can bet it would have been fixed by now. Why? Two reasons: Relationships with the customers (restaurants) and profit, both motivators to fix what gets broken. Because public employees rarely can be fired, the incentive to fix problems is not the same as the private sector.

Think about this: Washington is a relatively small populated state. Ask yourself if you really want the federal government to take over even more of your health care, energy supplies, manufacturing, etc.